When Microsoft first Introduced their Optical Range of mice most people thought it was cool, not having to take a ball out and spend about 15 minutes cleaning the mouse just to get some reasonable performance out of it.
The New Optical Sensor aims to change the way we use the mouse and its my turn to find out how, read on...
IntelliEye optical technology - The precise sensor detects motion on hundreds of surfaces, including wood, plastic, or even your trousers.
5 programmable buttons - Five programmable buttons make it easier to navigate the Internet or access and use your favourite programs.
IntelliMouse wheel - Scroll directly from your mouse without having to use scrollbars. Zoom without needing to use menus or toolbars.
Designed for Left or Right Handed Users and encourages natural posture.
First impressions look good, the mouse comes with both a USB port connection and an adapter so it will fit into your PS/2 port if you have no USB ports free (or don't have any).
The mouse itself is extremely light, we all know how heavy the mouse balls are to keep them on the surface while moving the mouse about, well take that away and your mouse is very light and very unusable! The mouse also looks very good, something that would not go amiss in a designer home next to a designer PC and on a designer desk.
I decided to use the mouse as a USB mouse, I had to use a Spare USB port on the review copy of my MS Keyboard as both the ports on my PC were taken up by the keyboard and my Webcam. This gave me a chance to test if the keyboard USB ports worked as well as a chance to see how the mouse worked.
Installation is easy, using USB meant I didn't have to reboot the PC and Windows picked up the mouse right away and prompted me for the Driver CD. The drivers for the mouse are Microsoft's own IntelliPoint 3.1 mouse drivers which came on a CD with the mouse and the installation was faultless. The computer needed to reboot for the changes to take effect and for the Mouse Control Panel option to use the IntelliPoint Control Panel not the Standard Mouse Control Panel, besides that it all went to plan.
Usability & Performance Statistics:
The IntelliPoint interface is similar to the standard Mouse interface except that it allows you to set what each of the 5 mouse buttons (the 2 standard buttons, 2 side buttons - one for the thumb and one the other side of mouse, the mouse wheel button) and what the mouse wheel does. By default the mouse is configured so the 2 side buttons are equal to backwards and forwards on Explorer / Internet Explorer while the wheel scrolls up and down on pages and the standard buttons do what they always do.
The number of available actions for the extra buttons is a long list, you can get them so single click is equal to a double click, refresh, go up a level and many more but I decided to stick with the default actions. The IntelliPoint software also lets you choose how many lines the mouse scrolls when using the mouse wheel and whether you can click lock while dragging an item. Click lock means you can press the mouse button for a few seconds to drag an item but when you release the mouse button it still keeps dragging the item until you left click again to release the item you were dragging. This sounds like a great concept but I found it hard to get used to and decided to leave it alone.
The 2 side buttons on the mouse are a good idea, Unlike the IntelliPoint Explorer Mouse the buttons are either side of the mouse meaning that it can be used by both Right and Left handed people. The main problem with the buttons is that they are way to sensitive, it will take a few days for you to get used to repositioning your hand so you don't keep pressing the side buttons while moving the mouse about. I found that the thumb button was more susceptible to getting pressed than the other button.
The way the mouse works is that the optical sensor scans the surface the mouse is on 1,500 times per second to track its movement, this means that you can in theory use it on any surface, for example it will work quite will on your trousers. However you cannot use it on clear surfaces so using your window or a glass table is out of the question, I guess that the price of Innovation!
I had to test the mouse to check how will it coped when it was moving very fast, as we know the standard mouse works very well so on I put Unreal Tournament and proceeded to play as I normally do. I did find that while performance was generally good, if you moved the mouse too fast from side to side it tended to get stuck near the left hand side of the screen. Noticing this I quit UT and tried to move it from side to side in Windows, starting slowly I speeded up and sure enough the pointer would never make it a ¼ of the way across the screen from the left hand side before going back!.
This mouse is one of the best mice I have tried. The fact that you don't have to clean the damn thing and that its really light adds to its usability while the few short falls like the side buttons being too sensitive and that it does not work well while fast moving does not detract from its appeal. The buttons being too sensitive just means getting used to them being there and the speed issue will probably be sorted out sometime. So, a highly recommended mouse to all!